Reflections, Gratitude, Funding to a TEA

We had a lovely evening last Tuesday with Emily and Kate of WePropelle! Along with the wonderful company of many of the Rock IT! members,  we enjoyed beautiful weather and inspiring conversation at Healcrest Urban Farm under the big apple tree. Check out all of the beautiful photos from the evening lovingly taken by Cara Rufenacht Creative
10014415_874376175976273_2022010700818529614_oMaria and I had such an inspired time we are still feeling the High Vibes from a week ago! Thank you all so much for spending your evening with us. We know how valuable time and energy are and we are so grateful, fortunate, and blessed that you shared your with us.

We thought it helpful to reshare some of what we spoke about that it may support your own efforts.

Healcrest Urban Farm is so fortunate to received support from many varied sources. Many of the structures and gardens have been built by student work crews through PGH Learn and Earn Program, formerly Pittsburgh Summer Youth Employment Program from 2005 – 2010. This program, through participating CDCs and Non-Profits, places youth interns with qualified businesses. Grants pay the student work force and small, local, and non-profit businesses get the benefits of working with a young person outside of your businesses payroll.

In 2012 we were able to purchase our first Ice-Cream cart, Big Bertha, with a grant from Awesome PGH. Awesome if made up of 10 people who every month give up $100 each of their disposable income to projects they believe make PGH more awesome. As a grant winner we were featured and participated in an award ceremony. At the award ceremony we were inspired by all the other awesome projects and we made some great connections. By being a grant winner we were offered 2 news spots as well as other publicity and it really gave us some good fuel to work with.

Through a neighborhood connection with Catapult PGH, also how we met miss Kate Stoltzfus, Maria was sponsored to apply for a KivaZip loan. KivaZip is a type of crowd funding program where anyone can support projects and the recipient receives an interest free loan from the support of interested people. With this loan Healcrest was able to secure the permits, certifications, insurance, equipment and commercial kitchen space needed to legally bring our product to the people. Through this opportunity Maria has been featured which has led to more great connections.

We were fortunate to be chosen for the Idea Foundry Intersector Program in 2013. This program is specifically designed to incubate social enterprise start-up businesses. Our time with Idea Foundry has been eye opening and deeply motivating. We are currently in the second round of their programming. Each round comes with consultation, a financial award designed to support the growth of the social enterprise, and some legal services. With the disciplined support of Nicole and Mike at Idea Foundry we have made strides in our business we may have not otherwise envisioned.

Some of our most recent financial support has come from the Sprout Fund and New Sun Rising, each supporting mindful projects in Pittsburgh and assisting in making our Funding to a Tea event a success. We were graced with Scott from NSR sharing a bit of the work they are focusing on and we are thankful to have NSR focusing on Garfield and inviting Maria to be a board member.

We are able to grow and continue our work through amazing relationships like these. Not only in financial support but the countless amounts of gifts, collaboration, free advice, and consultation we’ve received from knowledgeable people throughout Pittsburgh. I’m sure I can not list them all but advice and support is priceless and we’ve received it from Meridith Grelli of Wigle Whiskey, Jacob Hanchar of Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor, Jody and Steve Choder of Choderwood, Dora and Dierdre of 52nd St Market, Leah Lizarondo of Brazen Kitchen, Pastor Paul of Eastminster Church, Terry Doloughty of Pittsburgh Public Market, and many more.

We’ve also been fortunate over the years to collaborate with Carnegie Mellon, Chatham University, Youth Builders, The Eve Circle, Western Psych, Assemble, Bloomfield Garfield Corp., Western PA Conservancy, Fork in the Road, Chicks in the Hood, Ola’s Herbshop, and others.

Looking forward to the future we are practicing gratitude, manifesting abundance, managing our stresses by counting our blessings, while living presently and with intention. Our journey with Healcrest and working with others has given us many opportunities to learn about ourselves, however reluctantly at times.

Healcrest Urban Farm not only cultivates herbs and fruits, it nurtures our personal growth as well. As we have grown in business we have grown in ourselves. Through this experience we have had to ask hard questions of ourselves and our business and we have matured as a result. With each passing year the perennials get stronger, juicier, more robust, and of higher quality, and so do we. As we nurture the soil and cultivate the plants, Healcrest nurtures our spirits, bodies and minds.

Thank you for sharing in our love. Thank you for your appreciation of the bueatiful sanctuary that is Healcrest Urban Farm.

With love and gratitude, Dana Launius

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We Are OPEN for Business at Pittsburgh Public Market!

We’d LOVE to see your face at the Market! Come visit us and the many fine vendors at the Public Market at 25th and Penn in one of Pittsburgh’s greatest destinations. It’s been fun to build our own little homey kitchen just off the main aisle of the market.

Open Hours – WED – SUN 10am – 4pm (SAT 9am)

Come and get delicious iced and hot tea service, loose leaf by the pouch, as well as ice pops for enjoying on the spot or taking home by the box. And our newest fun herbal edible our delightful herb infused simple syrups.

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Be a Healcrest Urban Farm Fan and Get Market Day Text Reminders!

You will get market day reminders from us on your mobile phone. Checkins at market can also equal rewards from Healcrest Urban Farm (like ice pops!) You can unsubscribe from these messages at any time and we will never share your information with anyone. Sign Up Here On Farm Fan! farmfanlogo

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Funding To A Tea: A Networking Happy Hour Event with Healcrest Urban Farm, The Sprout Fund, and New Sun Rising.

https rect=0%2C1%2C826%2C413&s=a3bf8c7f2ee0db073adceb78e32eccc6 LET’S HAVE FUN ON THE FARM! 

Propelle is teaming up with Healcrest Urban Farm, The Sprout Fund, and New Sun Rising to throw an early-summer garden party for women entrepreneurs!

With tents, twinkling lights, greenhouse and garden tours, local farm fresh tidbits and specialty drinks made from Healcrest’s own line of herbal teas, shrubs, and tea pops this is sure to be the networking event of the summer. The focus for the evening will be women entrepreneurs seeking funding opportunities, resources, incubation & investment. Speakers will include Dana Launius and Maria Graziani of Healcrest Urban Farm and a representative from the Sprout Fund. What you’ll discover:

  • Funding opportunities and options in PIttsburgh.
  • What funders are specifically looking for.
  • What will set your funding application apart from the crowd.
  • What Maria and Dana have learned from 5+ years of working with funders.

There will also be funding information on hand from New Sun Rising. Get your tickets today and invite your favorite woman entrepreneurs (and future entrepreneurs) to join you for a very special and informative evening. This event is 21+ only.

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Everything is SPRINGing back to life!

It’s spring and I’m silly. Sunshine and warmth make me giddy and a little drunk on all the vitamin D. Spring fever is finally over and it feels as if Persephone has returned from the underworld to stay…for now.

Everything is waking up at Healcrest. In a face paced life 3 weeks can seem like a blink so in a blink the leaves have unfolded, blossoms have popped out and bloomed, birds, bugs, and bushwhackers everywhere are buzzing and humming. 


I love Spring. Everything emerges from the slumber and is excited to be warm and sunny. Throughout winter most of us have our issues with the cold, dark, slow moving way of the season. 

As if we’ve never experienced the seasonal cycle we discuss winter like it has no business being around. “Who invited her? She’s such a bore and downer.” We treat winter as an aquaintence or co-worker we don’t really want to spend time with but will be forced to, repeatedly, year after year.

I love Winter also. She reminds us to slow down, harvest and take stock of life. The chill forces us to hold closer the ones we love. It’s a special time of gestation and hibernation. I’m pretty sure the other mammals laugh at us between naps. “Those silly human running around. Don’t they know it’s cold and time to sleep more.” I lobby for longer sleep nights and a shorter work week in the winter. Holla if ya hear me!

I love Spring in its stretching gotta get to work behavior. The flowers all around remind us life is beautiful. And everything is getting busy in all the ways you get busy. The natural world is buzzing with sexual energy. Pollination, fruit, fecundity, sex. Our world is a sexy place and Spring is certainly a sexy time. Enjoy the first fruits of the season as their juices drop down your chin.

                 I’m so thankful for the ability to experience such beauty and excitement. I grateful to hear the bird songs, mixed with motorcycle revs, and children’s laughter. 

Life is so abundant. The lack of winter makes me appreciate the abundance and vibrancy of spring. 

May all your days be filled with abundance, joy, and wonder.

With love,


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Check Out Our Calendar of Upcoming Markets and Events





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Aquaponics at Healcrest – Part 2

Everything’s coming together. The Bottom tank will hold the fish, while the Top shelf will house delicious delicate herbs.

Savi says this is what the fish will do if you put your hand in the tank.

IMG_4430The babies move in.

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Aquaponics at Healcrest Urban Farm!


noun: aquaponics, a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water.

Like so many other projects and businesses, Healcrest Urban Farm has enjoyed growth opportunities through the connection and collaboration with others. From bees to mulch and more Healcrest ‘s expansion has been supported and sometimes catalyzed by outside organizations.
Seed-Healcrest Team
The most recent expansion is brought on through a collaboration between Seed Aquaponics LLC. An organization whose mission is to build aquaponics systems worldwide while creating collaborative opportunities between students and community leaders to implement sustainable, social and economic development solutions.
Last October, aIMG_0433(1)utumn 2014, Maria and Dana began conversations with Colleen Beck of Seed Aquaponics. In need of an additional test site for an aquaponics system, Colleen looked to Healcrest Urban Farm and the high tunnel greenhouse as a possible space. After some conversations about concepts Colleen and her crew of volunteers and interns set to work. In cold Western PA winter the crew broke ground in early December and labored throughout the winter.

Now with spring right around the corner and the cold winter seems to have passed, we are ready to fill the tank! Last Saturday, March 14, the team assembled for some of the final stages in the building process and happily filled the tank. This water tank will soon to be home to tilapia and perch.

Some of the advantages of an aquaponics system, and some that the ladies or Healcrest are hoping will lean in their favor, are the creation of rich nutrients for plant to thrive as well as a more gentle and maintained environment from that of outdoor growing. The relationship between pants and fish create a lovely habitat for plant to live an grow.
Used widely in Healcrest products, Dana and Maria cultivate chamomile and red clover flowers which struggle in the Pittsburgh climate. With this indoor aquaponics system the ladies are hoping to achieve greater yields from some of those more delicate plants.
Only a few final steps to go and the system will be complete. Colleen and the Seed crew have done their jobs of building and Dana and Maria will take over in their job of stewardship. Another collaborative relationship cultivating amazing experiences and growing beneficial structures.

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We’re Headed to the Annual PASA Conference!

This weekend the women of Healcrest are headed to State College for the 24th Annual PASA Conference! pasa_logo5

PASA is the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. If you want to know something about sustainable agriculture in Pennsylvania, they are your people!

The Farming for the Future Conference is a wonderful gathering of farmers, farming advocates, lobbyists, and generally interested parties.

226ea6ec-29b9-46ac-8fe1-12b35f9493ab As usual there are wonderful, inspiring keynote speakers. This year I am very excited to hear Frances Moore Lappe speak. She is the author of Diet for a Small Planet among other books examining and discussing our food system.

We have participated in the conference before but this will be the first year that Healcrest as gone as vendors as well. This year we are taking our delicious Tea, Tisane, and Herbal Ice-Pops to share with conference participants.

This event is so inspiring and a great place to connect with others of like minds. If you’ve never gone to this conference but you love sustainable agriculture I encourage you to go some time.The weekend is full of wonderful workshops from soil health to law & policy; from cover-cropping to creating an urban buying club. There is something for everyone at this conference!

We are looking forward to it and I know we will come back with wonderful things to share and grow from!

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Healcrest CSA Pick-Up at 52nd Street Market!

Hello Friends,

It’s nice to be back on the Blog after a little Harvest Hiatus.

As winter is certainly upon us we are excited to announce that Monthly CSA Pick-Up will be at 52nd Street Market at 601 52nd St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201, beginning today Monday Dec 1. 5-7pm.

We’re sure you’re going to enjoy the harvest classics we’re bringing you today!

Dora and Dierdre of 52nd Street Market are sharing their cozy, warm market with us once a month so we can offer a comfortable space for our CSA members to pick-up their goodies.

In months to come, along with market directors, we will bring you samples, extra goodies, and more!

Today Dana will have some extra goodies for CSA members available for purchase and we invite anyone to come out and shop for individual Tea Boxes, Packs of Pops, and Harvest Apple and Pear Lavender Butters!!

See You at the Market!

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